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CBS News - January 2005

Help plan the future of CBS

It’s important for you to attend the special All-College Meeting on January 25. If you’ve ever been to an All-College Meeting before, you may wonder why. Typically, we have a short agenda of housekeeping items and lots of leftover cookies. But this time, it’s different. This time, we are launching a strategic planning process to figure out how to keep getting better as resources get scarcer.

Provost Tom Sullivan, who is leading the University’s strategic planning process, will get things started with his vision for the University and what that might mean for CBS. Then I will share my vision for the College and talk about how our strengths support that vision.
 

 

After that, it’s your turn. I want to hear your ideas for our future. What do you think our goals should be? What are the most effective ways to achieve them? What needs to change? What needs to stay the same? We need your suggestions to continue with our planning process.

 

I don’t have to explain the conflict between the opportunities and challenges we face. You know them all too well. This is a golden era for biology. Thanks to advances in knowledge and technology, biologists are equipped to address some of the world’s most pressing problems: petroleum dependency, global ecosystem changes, feeding the world’s growing population, and the threat of infectious and chronic diseases. At the same time, public support for higher education is declining. Consequently, it’s more important than ever to use resources strategically.

We’ve been fortunate thus far. Thanks to the Molecular and Cellular Biology Initiative, we have state-of-the-art new facilities and talented young faculty. But waning public support threatens our continued progress. If our trajectory of excellence is going to continue, it will take all of our best ideas to stay on course.

Please mark your calendars. The meeting is on Tuesday, January 25, from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. in the room 105 to the Cargill Building.

I value your input and hope to see you at this meeting. Let’s try to finish the cookies this time.

Bob Elde

Dean, College of Biological Sciences

News

All-College Meeting to focus on strategic planning

The Dean’s Office will hold a special All-College Meeting on Tuesday, January 25, from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. in the Cargill Building. Provost Tom Sullivan will speak about his vision for the University. And Dean Elde will speak about his vision for CBS. All faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to attend and contribute their suggestions.

CBS explores bioscience and technology partnerships with Manitoba

Dean Elde and Marc von Keitz, director of the Biotechnology Resource Center, visited Winnepeg, Manitoba and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in early January to explore opportunities for partnerships. The trip, which followed up on an agreement signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty to strengthen alliances between Manitoba’s and Minnesota’s life sciences companies and institutions, was arranged by the Minneapolis Canadian Consulate. Stops in Winnepeg included the Institute for Biodiagnostics, the National Microbiology Laboratory (which contains a facility for studying deadly viruses such as ebola), the Department of Energy, Science, and Technology, the University of Manitoba, the Composites Centre (for materials engineering), and IMRIS, a company that makes MRI equipment used in neurosurgery. In Saskatoon, they made several stops at the University of Saskatchewan and visited the Canadian Light Source, a stadium-sized $173.5 million synchrotron microscope that uses intense beams of light to analyze matter down to the atomic level. Elde plans to follow up with specific proposals. “There are many opportunities, ranging from undergraduate internships to faculty collaboration,” he said. “Our needs and interests are very complementary.”

‘Reverse the Trend’ at the Legislature

In 1974, Minnesota spent eight cents of every dollar on higher education and today we spend less than 4 cents. Strong state support for the U means a better economy and quality of life for Minnesotans. It's time for state leaders to reverse the trend and invest in the U; and it's time for you to take action.

The U has resubmitted a bonding request for $158 million and is asking the state for $42 million in new funding for each of the next two years. The money will fund research in biosciences, recruitment and retention of top faculty, students, and staff, and investments in new research infrastructure.

Contact your representative throughout the legislative session urging them to support the U's bonding and capitol request. http://ga4.org/campaign/rtt/gndbuur2jmb6md

Attend the Legislative Briefing on January 27

Learn more about the U’s request and how you can help from President Bruininks at the U’s annual Legislative Briefing, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 27 in the McNamara Alumni Center. Visit http://ga4.org/u_of_m_leg_net/events/legbriefing/details.tcl for more information

Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment: seed grants available

The University’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) has a limited number of seed grants available for multi-disciplinary research projects, preferably with external partnerships, that have good prospects for external funding or commercialization. A total of $160,000 is available. Individual proposals may not exceed $40,000.

Imaging Center Open House

The CBS Imaging Center will hold an open house on Wednesday, January, 19, 2005 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to acquaint students, staff and faculty with newly acquired imaging equipment, including a spectral imaging system for collecting information from microscopic samples and a new laser capture microdisection system. There will be demonstrations, tours, and refreshments throughout the day. The Imaging Center is located in rooms 23-37 of Snyder Hall on the St. Paul campus.

Plant biology researchers lead tsunami relief effort

Dasharath Lohar, post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Plant Biology and Sajeet Haridas, plant biology graduate student, are working with the Hindu Student Society to collect funds for tsunami relief in coordination with India Development & Relief Fund (IDRF) and the Hindu Student Council. You may contribute to IDRF online at http://www.idrf.org or by mailing a check to: IDRF, 4807 Phebe Ave, Fremont, CA 94555. Please write “tsunami” on the memo line. For more information, contact Dasharath Lohar lohar001@umn.edu or Sajeet Haridas at hari0024@umn.edu

John Hall Memorial Research Fund in Evolutionary Plant Biology

The Department of Plant Biology invites proposals for the John Hall Memorial Research Fund in Evolutionary Plant Biology. A $10,000 research grant will be awarded to a proposal for organismal plant evolutionary science. All faculty and professional academic staff in the College of Biological Sciences are eligible to apply. Projects should address questions about the evolution of plants, algae, or fungi and may employ any approach, ranging from molecular to ecosystem level analyses. Funds may be used for supplies, travel, and salaries for research assistants. Contact Anne Caton [Plant Biology; 5-7754; annec@cbs.umn.edu] by February 1 if you plan to apply. Applications are due February 15.

“FLUORESCIENCE” Microscopy Symposium

Carl Zeiss Microimaging in conjunction with the CBS Imaging Center will host a "FLUORESCIENCE" Microscopy Symposium on February 8-9 in room 105 of the Cargill Microbial and Plant Genomics Building. This two-day event will showcase the newest advances in instrumentation and technology for light microscopy and imaging. Please contact Mark Sanders, msanders@cbs.umn.edu or 612-624-3454 in the Imaging Center [23 Snyder Hall, St. Paul Campus] with any questions.

Trendwatch


Citizens League report “Trouble on the Horizon: Growing Demands and Competition, Limited Resources, and Changing Demographics in Higher Education”

There is trouble on the horizon of higher education, according to a Citizens League report commissioned by Gov. Tim Pawlenty a year ago and released in November, 2004. As an inland state with up to six months of winter, education is Minnesota’s most important economic and quality-of-life resource. But global economic and local demographic challenges threaten our competitive advantage in higher education. Despite our current accomplishments, Minnesota is at risk of falling behind in the rapidly-changing global economy. In a world where knowledge is the primary economic and strategic resource, our current higher education system and its current success is not sustainable. To read the complete report, go to http://www.citizensleague.net/ and click on “Trouble on the Horizon” in the left margin.

People

George Weiblen, plant biology, and Reuben Harris, biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics, have been selected as McKnight Land Grant Professors for 2005-2007. The two-year awards recognize the University’s most promising junior faculty. Weiblen, who joined the plant biology faculty in 2001, is also curator of flowering plants at the Bell Museum. His research concerns biodiversity in tropical rainforests, with an emphasis on the evolution of plant/insect interactions. Harris studies the role of mutations in human cancers and the use of mutations to destroy pathogens. The awards will be presented at the Board of Regents meeting on March 8, 2005. Weiblen and Harris are among 11 recipients University-wide.

Eric Hendrickson, biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics, has been awarded a $1.8 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health for "A human somatic cell model for Dyskeratosis congenita. The research focuses on understanding the functioning of KARP-1, a gene believed to cause Dyskeratosis congenita (DC), a rare inherited disorder that affects continuously renewed tissues such as the skin, mucous, and bone marrow, and is uniformly fatal with death resulting either from bone marrow failure or cancer. DC appears to be related to dysfunction of telomeres – repetitive sequences of noncoding DNA that cap chromosomes. The ultimate goal of Dr. Hendrickson’s research is to use human somatic cell lines with altered expression of KARP-1 to understand the molecular mechanisms of telomere dysfunction in human patients. By studying the aberrant processing of telomeres in DC individuals, his laboratory also hopes to characterize the mechanism of telomere maintenance in normal human beings.

David Marks, plant biology, and colleagues, created a scanning electron micrograph of a trichome cell for the cover of a recent issue of Plant Journal. The related article "Comparison of TRY and the closely related At1g01380 gene in controlling Arabidopsis trichome patterning," was co-authored by Jeffrey J. Esch, Margaret A. Chen, Matthew Hillestad, and M. David Marks. Marks' lab has long used trichome development as a system to study determination of cell fate. Trichomes are hairs on the surface of leaves or stems. This is Marks’ eighth cover for Plant Journal.

Steven Crouch, professor of civil engineering and associate dean of the Institute of Technology (IT), has been named dean of IT effective January 1, 2005. Crouch is the 15th dean of IT, replacing H. Ted Davis, who has returned to teaching in the department of chemical engineering and materials science. Crouch earned his bachelor of science degree and master’s degree and Ph.D. degree in mining engineering from the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty in the 1970s and was head of mineral engineering from 1987 to 1997, when he became associate dean for finance and planning. Crouch holds the Theodore W. Bennett Chair in Mining Engineering and Rock Mechanics. His early research dealt with the stability of underground mine openings; more recently, he has become interested in the mechanics of composite materials.

Fred Dulles has been named Director of Information Technology for the College of Biological Sciences (CBS). The change in job title for Fred, who has been IT coordinator for three years, recognizes his role as a key leader of a major CBS function. Fred has made significant contributions to CBS in the management of the Information Technology area. He has initiated strategies to provide high quality service on two campuses, address challenges of new security mandates, and manage growing software needs all within significant financial constraints. Fred’s knowledge, creativity, and ability to provide leadership in solving problems and developing staff to assist with the growing IT needs has allowed CBS to make improvements while maintaining ongoing service.

Laila Akhter, CBS undergraduate majoring in biochemistry and physiology, received the fall 2004 Student Leader of the Semester Award from the Biology Colloquium Program. The award is given each term to the student leader who has gone the extra mile and shown excellent leadership skills.